A Night of Long Knives

Written by Rebecca Cantrell
Review by Liz Allenby

The second in a gripping mystery series set in 1930s Berlin, Rebecca Cantrell brings back her journalist Hannah Vogel who again, and despite her previous vow, returns to her native Germany while the Nazis maintain power. As Hannah, accompanied by her foster child, Anton, reports on a zeppelin journey from South America to Switzerland, the aircraft is diverted to Munich, where Hannah and Anton are kidnapped and separated. Three years earlier, Hannah had kidnapped Anton from Ernst Rohm, the head of the Hitler’s Brown Shirts. Hannah’s rescue of the child has now backfired as she finds herself back in Germany, met by Rohm who insists she will marry him. She then suspects Rohm’s mother has hidden the boy.

Soon after, during the event called A Night of Long Knives, Hitler executes Rohm and hundreds of his stormtroopers, desiring to wipe out any remaining children bearing the Rohm name. In the meantime, Anton has disappeared, and Hannah uses tireless methods, including infiltrating a sleeping SS officer’s quarters, to uncover clues to his whereabouts. She enlists the help of her former lover, Boris, a banker, Agnes, a madam, and Sefton Delmer, a British journalist, in order to untangle the web of lies surrounding Anton’s whereabouts.

Although at times the quest for Anton becomes monotonous, the novel succeeds in relating the tension and uncertainty surrounding Hitler’s rise to absolute power over the Germans. Cantrell weaves historical fact and fiction effectively as she blends the reality of Hitler’s threats and atrocities with the accurate setting of Berlin as only a native would be able to recount. The plot moves quickly, causing the reader to cringe at every twist and turn. This novel will satisfy the reader curious about life and death in 1930s Germany.